Suspended all-rounder Ben Stokes is not an essential presence for England and their chances of retaining the Ashes having lost the opening Test of the series, according to injured seamer Toby Roland-Jones.
Stokes was arrested in September on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and the England and Wales Cricket Board will not review their stance on his availability until the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decide whether or not he will be charged.
Speculation that Stokes could be fast-tracked into the side for the third Test at Perth, which starts on 14 December, was fuelled by the 26-year-old this week flying to New Zealand, where he has signed a short-term deal with provincial side Canterbury.
The odds of Stokes appearing at Perth lengthened, however, with suggestions that a CPS decision could take a number of weeks, although Roland-Jones does not consider Stokes to be indispensable.
“I would say integral is a dangerous word. I think the dressing room can certainly exist without him and hopefully that will show as the series progresses,” Roland-Jones told City A.M.
“But there is no doubting he has a big influence, he’s a hell of a competitor and he’s outstandingly talented across all fronts of the game.
“You’re going to miss a player like that for sure but there were certainly times in the first Test where England showed that there is more than enough in this current touring squad to really compete with the Australian team.
“There is no doubt he would strengthen any side in the world but England will be hoping they can really get a taste of success without him.”
Roland-Jones, who was ruled out of the Ashes after suffering a stress fracture in his lower back in September, was speaking at the launch of Middlesex’s partnership with KidZania London and the unveiling of their new indoor cricket facility.
The 29-year-old believes a better conversion rate – four England players scored half-centuries at the Gabba without reaching three figures – could expose fragility in Australia’s batting during the second Test at Adelaide, which starts on Saturday morning.
“Most of the guys batting will feel they showed good form but will be frustrated by not posting bigger scores, that would be the only thing missing on that front,” added Roland-Jones.
“Fingers crossed one of the guys can really go on and make a big score and apply a bit of scoreboard pressure as things could change pretty quickly from there.”